It’s now been almost 18 years since the Uniting Church in Australia’s ‘Assembly of Tears’ – the Eighth National Assembly, held in Perth. This July, the Uniting Church Assembly will return to Perth.
At the last National Assembly, in Adelaide in 2012, I realised that there were some members of the Assembly who were too young to remember that 1997 Assembly, and who had only the vaguest idea of the history of the sexuality debate in the Uniting Church. (Of course, there are people who have been members of the Uniting Church since its inception in 1977 who have only the vaguest idea of the history of the sexuality debate in the Uniting Church!) After the 2012 Assembly I made copies of my PhD thesis, Divided We Stand: The Sexuality Debate in the Uniting Church in Australia, 1977-2000 available. As we start preparing for the next Assembly to be held in Perth, it seems the right time to share the article that I wrote specifically about the previous Perth Assembly.
Basically, I wrote this article as a way of working through my own pain and anger at what happened in 1997. But the fact that it was published in a peer-reviewed journal shows, I hope, that it is also a conscientious piece of historical writing. And so I offer it to anyone interested in sexuality and the Uniting Church.